Sen. Ted Stevens was eulogized Wednesday in Anchorage, with colleagues and religious leaders praising the iconic Republicans work to build and develop his adopted home state of Alaska.
Stevens, 86, died Aug. 9 in a plane crash in rural Alaska.
In Congress, Stevens was perhaps best known for his ability to work the earmarking process to steer billions in federal tax dollars to Alaska and was swept up in several federal investigations into earmarks sent to the state. But speakers at the funeral sought to downplay his appropriations work.
He realized that his work in the Senate was not going to be measured by appropriations and gifts and earmarks. Rather ... to be known as one who loved his people, Archbishop Francis Hurley said.
Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), noting that were gathering together across the state to remember and celebrate Stevens, argued that Stevens legacy rests not just with the infrastructure and the programs that he has created and built, but really that legacy lies with the lives that he has touched. ... We all have our Ted stories.
I have no doubt that Alaska is written in Teds heart. ... You never had to wonder what was in Teds heart. It was obvious to everyone who knew him, Vice President Joseph Biden said, praising Stevens commitment to his word in a world of political maneuvering.
You could always, always, always count on Ted Stevens. ... You could absolutely bet your life on the fact that he would keep the commitment, Biden said.
Biden lost his first wife, Neilia, in a car accident, and Stevens first wife, Anne, was killed in a plane crash, a tragic circumstance that forged a bond between the two men, according to Biden.
I used to joke with Ted that no man deserves two great loves in his life. But he and I share that distinction, Biden said.
Even the states archbishop acknowledged the importance of Stevens unparalleled ability to use the appropriations process to his states benefit. If heaven was run by committees ... then all Alaskans would be asking that God put Ted on the appropriations committee, Hurley quipped.
Biden cracked that funding that should have gone to other states over the years resides right here in Alaska.
Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) praised Stevens acumen in the Senate, saying his impact was felt far beyond Alaska.
Ted Stevens was respected and revered in Washington and throughout the lower 48 for his service to his country, his many legislative achievements and his legendary grit, he said. Teds colleagues in the Senate lost a dear friend whom we admired and, yes, sometimes even feared.
It was an honor to have known him, and it was a privilege to have served alongside him in the Senate, McConnell added. We have missed him these past two years.
Appropriations Chairman Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii), Stevens closest friend in the Senate, gave one of the most emotional speeches, noting that mourners plane ride to Anchorage was quiet and somber. We were all going to Anchorage to say goodbye to a friend, Inouye said.
Inouye was also the only speaker to refer directly to Stevens ethical troubles, saying that a guilty verdict in Stevens 2008 corruption trial was thrown out because of prosecutorial misconduct.
I knew it, we all knew it, he was not guilty, Inouye said to a round of loud applause. He was vindicated, cleared of all charges.
Lois Lerner, director of exempt organizations for the IRS, arrives for a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing on the investigation of the IRS' targeting of political groups. Lerner invoked her Fifth Amendment right to not testify and caused a protest from some committee members when she offered an opening statement and engaged in dialogue with members before invoking the right.
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